Retro Review – Fleischer Superman – “Jungle Drums”

Fleischer Superman

Superman Homepage reviewer Micah Pickering reviews the Fleischer Superman animated shorts for those nostalgic for the 1940s.

Check out his review of the cartoon titled “Jungle Drums”.

It’s a rumble in the jungle! Superman takes on Nazis in Africa in a high stakes rescue to determine the fate of Lois Lane and Allied forces!

Now onto the review!

4Rating – 4 (out of 5): This installment of this legendary series had a little bit of everything in it. There were high stakes, daring action sequences, and a prevailing theme of American patriotism against the backdrop of World War II.

The villain of our story is a sadistic Nazi who has manipulated a primitive African tribe into helping hide secret anti-aircraft weapons inside the tribe’s sacred monuments. The Nazi officer is clad in white robes and a hood, similar to those worn by the Ku Klux Klan. I doubt that this is a coincidence. Superman would famously later battle the KKK during the Superman radio program in the 1950s.

That program famously exposed secrets of the KKK to the general public thanks in part to the work of journalist Stetson Kennedy. Gene Luen Yang’s 2019 adaptation of that story, “Superman Smashes the Klan” is a must read for any Superman fan. I couldn’t help but think of those stories while watching this short. The Nazi’s costume looks like a combination between a KKK hood and a devil outfit.

The Nazi officer uses the anti-aircraft weapon to down an American plane delivering crucial information to the Allied Forces. The only survivor of the crash was none other than intrepid Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane. Lois receives the secret information files from the pilot before he would succumb to his injuries. The files contain information about the location of an Allied convoy.

Lois is almost immediately captured by the tribesmen and interrogated by the vicious Nazis. However, Lois has hidden the sensitive files. Lois refuses to give up the information, and the Nazi officer threatens to have the tribesmen burn her alive. As the fires rise around Lois, the tribesmen find the files and the Nazi officer laughs in sadistic glee.

Just as all hope seems lost, Clark Kent is on a plane to meet with Lois. As the plane flies over the crash site. Clark notices the rising fires and knows something is wrong. He dives out of the plane to the shock of the pilot, and heads to the rescue. Clark changes into Superman and dives into the heart of the blaze. The tribesmen flee in terror as the see a flying man walk through fire and pull Lois out unharmed.

It is always cool to see someone’s first reaction to seeing Superman in action, and these tribesmen wanted no part of the man of steel. I also like how it is clear even in this short cartoon that the tribesmen were merely manipulated and were not the primary foe.

The Nazis activate the anti-aircraft weapon and attack Superman with it. Superman withstands the attack and destroys the weapon as the Nazis flee in terror. A whole group of Nazis try to dogpile on Superman to no avail. There’s just something about Superman tearing through a wave of Nazis that fills me with joy.

The Nazis were able to deploy U-Boats to attack the Allied convoy. However, thanks to Superman, Lois was able to warn the Allies and give enough time for a squadron of B-52 bombers to wipe out the Nazi fleet. The Nazis are handed a swift and embarrassing defeat. The short ends with Adolph Hitler furiously listening to a radio broadcast detailing the destruction of the Nazi fleet, as the song “Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition” plays.

A fitting end to a fantastic installment of this series.